The Pro

'I'm like a pianist, hitting the correct keys'

Dr Chong Jin Ho says that although there is no cure, good control goes a long way in alleviating a child's symptoms.
Dr Chong Jin Ho says that although there is no cure, good control goes a long way in alleviating a child's symptoms.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Q I specialise in paediatrics because...

A I like to help children. Some are unable to verbalise their complaints and do not know what is going on. It is a privilege to be their advocate for medical and social issues.

Q My interest lies in...

A Paediatric skin diseases. Some skin conditions cause a lot of worry as they are visually obvious and can be deforming.

Sometimes, reassurance is needed, while at other times, treatments may improve the quality of life. A serious case of eczema can cause sleepless nights for the entire family and affect the child psychologically.

It is important for caregivers to understand that although there is no cure, good control goes a long way in alleviating a child's symptoms.

Q If I were to give an analogy for what I do, I'd be...

A A pianist. To be able to hit the correct keys, I have to be accurate in diagnosing and treating the various conditions.

At the same time, hearing what we play is important to ensure that the correct tone is being expressed. This is similar to listening attentively to the concerns of parents and addressing them.

Q I come across all types of cases, ranging from...

A Neonatal jaundice to anaemia and pneumonia. The conditions in paediatric medicine are varied and we manage patients from newborns to adolescents.

Q A typical day for me would be...

A I start the day with ward rounds at 8.30am. This is followed by a full-day clinic, before I head home to be with my family.

Q One little-known fact about my field is that...

A Steroids are naturally occurring hormones in the body. But many parents are wary of the use of steroids in their child's treatment due to cases of steroid abuse.

In fact, oral, intravenous or topical steroids can be used to treat several conditions, including asthma and eczema.

These are safe for use under close supervision by your doctor.

Q The patients who get my goat are...

A These would not be the patients but parents who are rude to healthcare staff.

They may be frustrated or anxious about their children's condition.

  • Bio Box


    Age: 37

    Occupation: Specialist in paediatric medicine and consultant, Raffles Children's Centre.

    Dr Chong completed his paediatric training at KK Women's and Children's Hospital and was accredited as a specialist in paediatric medicine in 2013.

    He later underwent training in dermatology as he finds the field of paediatric dermatology "very interesting".

    The fun part of his job is getting to know his patient's family and seeing the child grow up over the years, he said.

    "The most challenging part is repeating advice on fevers to parents. "As a parent myself, I know how worrying it is when your child has a fever."

    Dr Chong is married to a hematologist. They have two girls, aged six and eight.

But, by being unreasonable, they may antagonise others and make matters worse. I appreciate those who work closely with us.

Q The things that put a smile on my face are...

A When children recover and do not stay on the bed or cot when they are awake. That is when we know it is about time to send them home.

Q It breaks my heart when...

A Parents refuse to accept treatment for their child, based on what they have read on certain Internet sites.

Q My best tip is...

A Trust your maternal or paternal instincts. You know your child best. If you feel that your child is not behaving or looking right, it is safer to take him for a check-up.

Treat the conditions early. For example, addressing speech delay early can result in a better outcome.

Q I wouldn't trade places for the world because...

A Medicine is both a science and an art. The field of medicine is constantly evolving. There are constant paradigm shifts that affect the way we practise. Hence, it is important to keep up-to-date with these developments.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2017, with the headline ''I'm like a pianist, hitting the correct keys''. Subscribe